But, in January 2015, Ukrainian forces saved perhaps the worst until last. In mid-afternoon, a completely unexpected, unprovoked fusillade of shelling rained down by the ‘Hotel Europe’ in the Kubishevsky district of Donetsk. I was there on the scene to cover the horrific aftermath, and these videos, I publish for the first time in a long time, having had to remove them because of YouTube policies.
It was fantastic yesterday to return, the orthodox celebration of St Nicholas’ Day, to a place I’ve been many times, Lutugino Children’s Home, in Donbass, LPR. And thanks to donations collected from many parts of Russia – however must also give a special shout-out to Sean Taylor here – really fantastic to be able to take so much stuff for the kids there –
Here, we can see the over 200 children of the children’s home, many coming from difficult backgrounds, including children who’ve lost parents in war in Donbass:
However, yesterday it was wonderful to be a part of bringing some happiness to these children!
I had to delete these videos from YouTube a long time ago. Now, in the light of Ukraine having released a film glorifying the ‘cyborgs’, which is what they called the Ukrainian soldiers who held Donetsk airport between late May of 2014, and mid-January of 2015, I republish them here.
This is the reality, Donetsk airport, January 22nd, 2015. Ukrainian forces crushingly defeated by DPR people’s militia forces led by Givi, and Motorola. Mass destruction, the only Ukrainian soldiers still there, in piles of bodies… it’s all here.
I don’t say these videos are pretty etc, but this is the reality, this is as it really was, not as it is in Ukrainian cinemas…
I’ll soon be returning to Crimea for another period of reportage, but it was a real pleasure to spend some time in Donetsk, walk around the city I’ve spent so much time in, covered so many events from. What to say about life in Donetsk, honestly? Well, there can’t be any fairytales about a ‘booming’ DPR, apart from that shelling still goes on on the perimeters, with almost daily damage, regular casualties, and sometimes fatalities. However, the city lives, most shops are now open, people are on the streets. There’s no real confusing it with normal life, there’s a certain tension, which could hardly be any other given an ongoing war situation. But, as I say, life goes on –
And the city itself is not without brighter things in life, when I was there, a show ‘Fashion without Borders’, showcasing the work of local designers –
So, as I say, you couldn’t really say that it was ‘business as usual’, but in a lot of ways, Donetsk looks like any other – people are in cafes, cars are on the roads, people on the streets, and so on. However, true to say, a fair amount of shops still shuttered, no working banks, apart from local, and curfew. But, there’s no real military presence, the days I was there, no audible shelling from the centre, and in general, people just trying to get on with their lives, hoping for something to resolve this already protracted, egregious, unnecessary situation…
I recently began a series of reports documenting Ukrainian war crimes in Donbass, including those against children – over 100 children killed by Ukrainian military action in Donbass, many more maimed. One of the main aims of this project is to get a comment from one of the many organisations dedicated to protecting the rights of those in war, in many cases the rights of children.
I started off with War Child UK, an organisation with a high-media profile, very active on social media. About them, here, from wikipedia:
War Child is a non-governmental organisation founded in the UK in 1993 which provides assistance to children in areas experiencing conflict and the aftermath of conflict. The establishment of War Child UK was soon followed by organisations in Canada and the Netherlands.